Hardware

Reuse: CA-200 Card Reader

Recently I had a need to work with a micro SD card, read and write data for STM32 project. While I used my Macbook Pro to do this it got me thinking about having a backup. How about reusing some of the old parts I had laying around?

Working with various organizations I often wipe and recycle equipment. Usually this is obsolete or non functional equipment. Over the years I have saved some parts as potentially useful. Turns out I had collected  three different card multi-readers from various computers. In the end one worked out very well: the TEAC CA-200.

The TEAC unit model CA-200 is something found in various Dell computers or workstations. A unit designed to fit in 3.5 inch floppy drive bays. It has a Dell cable to interface with the system motherboard. Some googling found a relevant discussion on the very useful pinout.ru website. I built a cable using that information just to test things. It worked in Windows 10 much to my surprise (no extra drivers needed). 

Knowing this I decided to make a more permanent wiring connection. Opening the unit up its trivial to wire a USB cable directly to the card reader board eliminating the rear connector. Below is a photo of the unit I rewired:

CA-200 Internal layout with cable interface removed

The board is clearly marked for the standard Red, White, Green and Black USB wires. 


Final step was to connect this to a Dell laptop and flash the card readers internal firmware to version 4.08. You can find that on Dells website here. This provides support for larger SD cards. I don’t know the exact limit yet but I did read a 32GB micro SD card successfully. I don’t know if you have to run the utility on a Dell computer but it happens I did.  Now I’ve got a handy card reader that works not only on Windows 7 or 10 but also on OS X.


Recycle and reuse.


Disk Rebuild Crashes T420

A Dell T420 with at a small office crashed on restart. The Dell Red Screen Of Death (RSOD) was happening at boot.

This single processor unit with a H310 controller had internal non hot swappable IDE drives.  Pretty standard setup for light duty use. On reboot examining the RAID controller screen showed a drive in rebuilding state. This situation caused the RSOD.

Simply waiting for the drive to rebuild (about 6 hours) and then restarting the system fixed the RSOD. Unknown if a BIOS or other firmware update will correct this problem.